Lying on a sunbed under the dappled shade of a tree by the sea or the swimmingpool with a book in my hand is my idea of a relaxed, happy summer time. During the school year, with so many things to do and think about there is but little time to spend in leisure reading and, by the time I go to bed, I'm so tired that I can manage just a couple of pages before falling asleep and in that way I hardly enjoy a book. But summer is different: the long summer days offer plenty of time to spend in sundry activities and reading is one of my favourite.
Image: 'Waiting for Tourists'
This summer has been a special one for me in that respect for, by the end of the spring, I was presented with a box full of books that someone who was moving back to England was throwing away as they wouldn't fit in the removal van. The content of the box was quite eclectic with titles ranging from juvenile reading like Harry Potter to classics like the Brontë sisters. But the bulk of them were novels written by contemporary writers of whom I knew nothing whatsoever (I've read English literature at university but the most modern authors in the curriculum were the likes of Joseph Conrad or Graham Greene). Intrigued, but, I must admit, with a sneer in my face, I picked one of these, written by Carole Matthews, and was immediately absorbed into it. I just needed two days to finish it and then picked another and then another... and it's been like that the whole summer! You can imagine I had a whale of a time!
Of the new authors I've “discovered”, three stand out from the rest: Carole Matthews, Catherine Alliott and, above all, Marian Keyes. They are funny, witty and very good writers. They write romantic novels with a twist, and their stories are not just about love, but also about family and friendship relationships in the modern world. They are termed as “chick lit” because the protagonists are women but it doesn't mean that they don't write for men as well!
I won't make odious comparisons but I'd dare say I've enjoyed these novels almost as much as I enjoy re-reading my admired Jane Austen.